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Conflict Plan Needed

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is still on the National Science Foundation's case over its failure to take responsibility for conflicts of interest at grantee institutions.

Pharmalot's Ed Silverman links to a PDF of a letter Grassley sent to NSF officials this week, which charges NSF with failing to respond to a finding by its Office of Inspector General that the foundation does not provide direct oversight of conflicts of interest within the institutions that benefit from its funding, but rather relies on institutions to "police themselves."

According to Silverman, Grassley, who pushed for the OIG's 2011 audit of NSF's conflict-of-interest oversight measures, is now concerned that the agency has failed to address the OIG's findings after more than a year.

In his letter, Senator Grassley says NSF was supposed to be developing a plan to ensure "sufficient oversight of unmanageable conflicts," but never said it would provide that oversight itself. "The agency must proactively guard against conflict and implement adequate penalties to ensure compliance," he writes.

The senator gives the agency until February 13 to send his office all conflict of interest waiver requests submitted by its grantees and the decisions it made in each case, as well its promised "plan of action" to address unmanageable conflicts of interest.